Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Contemporary coproduction

Back in March - 18 March to be precise - thank you very much to the generous support of my School, my research group, Governance, Participation and Inclusion, hosted a seminar on coproduction. The seminar was a short full-day and, recognising that coproduction is very much the "buzzword" of the moment in public service reform, it aimed to take a critical stance towards exploring coproduction. I hoped to record the presentations and make them available online, but the tech didn't work on the day, so I've pulled together this, and Stuart Muirhead of IRISS has also done this excellent summary for their blog.

The day started off with an excellent presentation by Catherine Needham of the University of Birmingham, who discussed how we might evaluate coproduction (slides here [pdf]), recognising that traditional "gold standard" methods of evaluation (RCTs etc.) might be beyond the reach of small coproduced activities and do not fit into the ethos of coproduction. Tony Bovaird then followed with his thoughts on coproduction from extensive experience of public service transformation (slides here). We then had three short presentations on the theory of coproduction (Richard Simmons, University of Stirling), the policy of coproduction (Julie Christie, University of Stirling) and lastly Julia Fitzpatrick from Horizon Housing Association discussing the practice of coproduction.

After lunch we took our coffee into a Conversation cafe. Stuart put his notes on his blog post above, three other scribes also kindly sent me their notes after the event - available as pdfs here, here and here.

After this we broke into different activities. I joined a fascinating session on coproducing professional learning led by Unity, the group that the School of Applied Social Science at Stirling leads to bring in service-user experience to improve learning in social work. Other people played with Lego (see the photo on Stuart's blog post). Katherine Phipps, University of Stirling, also led a group coproducing some knitting (including teaching a few people how to knit) in response to Brooks Newmark's comment when he was Minister for Civil Society  "the important thing charities should be doing is sticking to their knitting and doing the best they can to promote their agenda, which should be about helping others". This was the end result:

I got in a bit of trouble for a foul-mouthed rant in the middle of the seminar when I decried the poor engagement of professionals in coproduction and the lack of realisation of what it really means to renegotiate one's professional role when coproducing something. Picking up on this, the theme of the event was to move the seminar itself towards coproduction, and away from the broadcast-receive model of academic practice as the day went out. Interestingly, in the feedback I got back after the event this is the bit of the day that the participants felt was least useful. And with that thought I shall leave you. 

And there's a few more photos taken by my colleague Vikki McCall in this Flickr album.

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